ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter has been criticized during the last several days for tweeting a photo of a medical record that said New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul had a finger amputated following a fireworks accident.
Through a series of emails with Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch over the weekend, Schefter revealed the thought process behind displaying the document on social media, saying he was offering evidence to back up facts that even the player's team hadn't yet been told.
"In a day and age in which pictures and videos tell stories and confirm facts, in which sources and their motives are routinely questioned, and in which reporters strive to be as accurate as possible, this was the ultimate supporting proof," Schefter said of the document.
He added: "In trying to be thorough and accurate, we delivered that news as soon as possible with the supporting proof if it happened. To me, that’s just doing my job. But I am aware of the thoughtful discussion it generated. You think about it, you learn from it, and it becomes a part of your experience and thought process for if and when a similar difficult situation and decision should happen to arise again."
Pierre-Paul, who received the franchise tag from the Giants back in March, was hurt when a firework exploded in his hand on July 4. He was thought to have suffered burns and possible nerve damage, but there was no mention of amputation until Schefter's report five days after the incident.
Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital has launched an investigation into how Pierre-Paul's records were leaked. Schefter told Deitsch that he never requested the medical documents and that he didn't feel there was anything "that could be considered sensitive" on them.
Still, Schefter said he wishes he had consulted with ESPN's editors and production staff more while reporting the story.
"Sometimes in the fast-paced news world we live in, it’s easy to forget you should lean on the knowledge and experience of the people surrounding you," Schefter said. "They’re always there for everything, but especially stories like this. On this one, there should have been even more discussion than there was due to the sensitivity of the story; that’s on me."